Past EventsNotes and Pictures of Past Events
Steve Schmidt Provides Political Perspective and Public Affairs Advice
By Jacque Coe, APR
Understanding and analyzing audience needs is a communicator’s foundational work for shaping a clear roadmap in a climate of fear and destabilization. That was just one of the messages of Steve Schmidt, Edelman’s Vice Chair of Public Affairs and an MSNBC political analyst before an audience of PRSA Puget Sound members in Seattle. Regarded as one of the top public affairs strategists in the nation, Schmidt gave a analysis of the current political climate in our country, how it will shape the views of audiences and how communicators can best serve their clients going forward.
Schmidt spoke to some of the revelations about voter attitudes uncovered in the 2016 presidential election; that many voters, feeling discarded by elected leaders over time, have doubled-down to focus on their personal and family needs and which candidates are promising to improve their economic situation—rather than just the economy overall. Millennials are the largest generation now and demand clients attention. Now more than ever before, communicators will need to research their target audiences, analyze their past and current history, conditions and needs to effectively understand the best approach forward. In an age of distrust, communicating your clients values is profoundly important. Schmidt gave four steps to consider: 1) peruse and create content, 2) distribute content to audiences, 3) measure the reach and 4) analyze it. Edelman Seattle graciously sponsored the opportunity with Schmidt.
PRSA District Conference Lineup in Seattle Draws Attendees from East and West Coasts
By Jacque Coe, APR
(Blog post about the #PRSAGameChangers North Pacific District Conference in Seattle, April 22-24)
“It’s not the dollars you make but the difference you make.” A quote from former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan—one of a number of amazing keynotes at the 2018 PRSA Game Changers Conference in Seattle in April. Professionals from nine West Coast states as well as the East Coast gathered at the Hyatt at Olive 8 for an impressive lineup of keynote and session speakers, professional development, socializing and networking. Nearly 300 people enjoyed the three day event. Communications leaders of global corporations and national visibility elevated the programming, which many PRSA members described as equal to the level of a National conference.
Trust and the impact of technology on business, ethics and our daily lives dominated the conference. Microsoft Communications Officer (CCO) Frank Shaw told the crowd, “Trust is built in drops and lost in buckets,” referring to the impacts of technology and poor decisions on public trust and brand credibility. T-Mobile CCO Janice Kapner, appearing within days of announcing a proposed merger with Sprint, shared honesty and transparency are the ingredients to surviving mistakes in the public view. Wired Editor in Chief Nick Thompson discussed automated intelligence and other innovations, quoting former Google Ethicist Tristan Harris, ‘The system is better at hijacking your instincts than you are at controlling them.’
A number of sessions were standing room only. C-suite communications executives, industry leaders and even Washington’s Attorney General gave fascinating presentations and panel discussions. Fun, social but informative value-added experiences enhanced the conference, including a pre-conference foodie walking tour, dine around dinners at local restaurants anchored by session speakers, cocktail speakers and an early morning run with Frank Shaw and Nick Thompson along Seattle’s waterfront and dawn.
How to Steer Clear of Social Media of Blunders
By Max Broburg
(Blog post about the February 28 Event, “Social Media Ethics Made Easy: How to Comply with FTC Disclosure Guidelines”)
Innovation happens constantly, especially in the world of technology and social media. From Facebook’s new layout to facial recognition, to Twitter’s life-changing expansion to 280 characters, innovation doesn’t stop.
Social media is particularly pertinent because it changes rapidly. Platforms are different than they were five years ago and by the time you finish reading this, they will have changed again.
The PRSA Puget Sound and Seattle University Professor Joseph Barnes’ presentation “Social Media Ethics Made Easy,” showcased the good, bad, and ugly of social media. Barnes’s intent is less about public shaming and more about making sure people make less embarrassing digital mistakes. The generic classroom in the Albers School of Business and Economics could be mistaken for any weekday lecture. But instead of students, the classroom desks are taken by a wide-range of professionals from the public and private sector, all anxious to learn about the recent changes to the social media landscape.
“My cause is to help organizations, not to sell books,” Barnes said during a post-presentation discussion. Of the many takeaways from the event, I’ve identified three I found particularly critical:
- All employees should be required to understand company social media policies.
- proofreading and common sense should be paramount
- Organizations need to be fully transparent
Social media policies – while sometimes lengthy and cumbersome, are important, both from the standpoint of having set standards and to educate employees about how quickly social media operates. Nobody wants to surpass SpaghettiOs or The Gap as some of the worst company tweets And I guarantee nobody wants to make the mistake of tweeting “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!.”
These are just a few instances where social media teams fell asleep at the wheel, engaging in blunders that a little common sense would have avoided.
These teams are expected to be at least proficient in social media. But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) expects every employee of an organization to comply with specific guidelines. Meaning every employee needs to understand the company policies, regardless of their role in the company. _____________________________
For example, Social media posts about a charity 5K your company is sponsoring needs to explicitly inform audiences that you work work for the organization. More importantly, you need to identify yourself in an easily accessible way. An example could be naming your employer in your personal information like you can do on Facebook. Staying with the charity 5K, an employee can identify themselves in their profile and in their post about the event use a sentence like “Hey everyone! My company is sponsoring this 5K that will benefit Lydia’s Place. Lydia’s Place is a local thrift store where all profits go towards helping homeless families with job training and finding stable housing. I have ran in this event for the past three years and it is an incredible experience.” Something like this is __________________
After these lessons on common sense, Barnes unpacked why transparency is crucial for a company’s social media success. Companies of all sizes and industries want to create a connection between their brand and customer. Brand ambassadors are tasked with eliminating the distance between a company and a consumer by humanizing the brand and creating shared connections. These people are extremely important for a company, but they are treated as employees, even if they have never set foot in the company office.
Other transparency issues come down to legality. Particularly, the FTC says it is illegal for you to write a fake review of a restaurant, regardless of if the restaurant exists. The same is true for companies that do exist, You can’t be employed as a brand ambassador, promote the company on Instagram and claim you spend $500 dollars a month on their products.
Transparency can prevent many problems before they occur. The clothing manufacturer Patagonia proved this when they began showing consumers every textile mill and sewing factory that produced their products. This action provided consumers with hard evidence of the company’s commitment to environmental and social consciousness. After all, maintaining public trust is easier than trying to win it back. Being honest also avoids an extensive list of problems with the FTC.
Social media can seem like a dark and scary world, especially when you might be wondering if the person on the other side of the screen is a Russian bot. However, social media literacy is like any other skill. You need to learn the fundamentals such as having a set social media policy, proofreading your content, and being transparent.
If you educate your organization on how to properly use social media you won’t always be free of errors, but your will decrease the chances that you tell people who have 3 feet of water in their living room to get out and do some online shopping.
It is PRSA’s mission to make communications professionals smarter, better prepared and more connected through all stages of their careers. If you are ready to invest in yourself and your career join PRSA today!